Category Archives: Digital Manga

Stories on new tech and digital distribution as related to manga.

Tech Friday: App-lying to the Kindle

I’ve decided that Fridays at Manga Xanadu will for now on be Tech Friday!  I’ll post all my tech/gadget type stories on this day from now on.  To inaugurate this, let’s take a look at the newest story about the Kindle; it’s getting apps.

kindle-indiaThat’s right.  You can’t have a device that connects to the net anymore without having some sort of app store to go with it.  And the Kindle is apparently no different.  With CES just recently past, and the Apple iMyth–err iSlate to be announced next week, Amazon has to do something to keep to not only stay competitive, but keep their e-Reader on top, with a wave of new devices threatening to wash them away.  And apps is the new, hip thing.

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Is E-Ink Worth It?

kindle 2.0This year is being touted as the year of the slate computer.  CES was filled with announcements of new computers that are like over-glorified e-book readers.  Of course, e-book readers are also being announced right and left.  This Christmas was Amazon’s biggest year for the Kindle so far, and claimed that on Christmas day sold more e-books than print.  But the worth of e-readers like the Kindle and Sony’s E-Reader are being questioned.  Well, more specifically, the E-Ink technology they use is being questioned.  E-Ink techonogy is one of the main reasons prices for e-readers remain high.  So, is E-Ink worth the price?

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Another Nail in Privacy's Coffin?

Having a wireless connection on an e-reader has been touted as the make-or-break deal for devices coming out.  Amazon’s Kindle, which started it all, has been favored because of the ease of purchasing books from Amazon and downloading to the device.  But, what are you really giving up for that privilege?  A lot of your privacy it seems.  As reported on BoingBoing, the EFF, the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, took a look at e-reader terms of service  for some of the most popular devices, and has made a chart showing who wants what, and what you’re giving up for that digital books online.

Google seems to be the worst of the privacy invaders, requiring users to have a google account so they can be tracked though Web History, and requires “opt-ing in” for sharing personal information with Google.  Amazon the next one down, doesn’t sell you books as much as it licenses them to you.  And they give themselves a lot of room for keeping track of users use of the Kindle, including their interaction with the device and service as well as conent.

Devices such as the Sony e-Reader, which doesn’t connect wirelessly (yet), has no such use agreements, leaving the user free do and put on their device what ever they want without fear of being tracked or spied on.

If privacy is a concern for you, you’ll want to look more closely at this report and read the user agreements carefully before you press that buy button.  Privacy is already under attack for some many other sources.  You shouldn’t have to worry about your books spying on you too.

Digital Manga: 2009 Year in Review

For a long time digital manga has mostly been in the realm of scanlation, but publishers have slowly been moving online.  Tokyopop had been putting it’s OEL manga up as chapter previews and some full volumes for promotion, and Netcomics has always had it’s chapters available for a fee.  This year though, we’ve seen an explosion of digital manga online and in e-book form.  Let’s take a look back at what 2009 has brought us.

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DIY E-Reader

Not sure you want a dedicated e-reader?  Can’t wait for the Asus E-reader?  Want more options in your e-book selection?  Like to tinker with computers and install your own software?  Well, there may be a way to do all these things and more!

Amazon, proving they’re in the e-book reader game more for the books that the hardware, has released the beta version of  software Kindle for PC.  Reviews have been mixed about it’s usefulness, and granted, it is still in beta, so there may be more changes in store for it.  But, for now, it allows you to sync with your kindle, view your kindle library (only the books you’ve bought though), and buy and read e-books from the Kindle store.

So, what’s the big deal?  The whole point of  the Kindle and other e-readers is to NOT be tied to a computer.  It’s to be light and portable.  But the Kindle device is very limited beyond reading the books they offer.  What if I want to surf the web, read RSS feeds and blogs for free, and have access to more than just what Amazon offers?  That’s where this article comes in!  Make your own E-reader.  You’re not really building anything, as it uses a PC tablet, a device that never really caught on as a PC, but as a portable web and e-book reader?  Yeah, I could go for that.  PC Tablets are plentiful on places like eBay, and there is a lot of open source software now that allows for reading practically any type of e-book format.  And with the addition of the Amazon Kindle for PC software, another door has been opened.  Tablets are lighter and easier to carry than a netbook, and have touch screens.  The screens are color too, so comics will look just as good as black and white manga.  It’s like they were made to be e-readers!

It’s hard to believe that just 2 years ago, the e-reader was a novelty, something only hard core techies would be interested in.  Now, the field is wide open with so many options, and more being announced every day.  While I don’t see e-readers as being the savior of newspapers or magazines, they certainly can’t hurt.  Especially as e-readers (and other similar devices) get more widespead acceptance.  And my shelf space would be grateful for the break.  All we need now are more publishers to make their books available digitally, so we can fill SD cards and hard drives with books just we do with music and movies.

Browser Manga

I found this link while searching for an item for my This Week in Manga column.  I was looking for manga subscription services, when I came upon a link for an extension to Firefox that watches OneManga for new updates of manga.  Now, I’m not endorsing either this extension or OneManga.  Instead, I want to suggest that manga publishers, such as Viz and Tokyopop, who put up online manga chapters, maybe look at doing something similar.

I have a hard time keeping up with the online manga, often forgetting about them until someone on twitter mentions one went up.  Having something in the browser that could check and tell me when a new chapter is out, AND what the last chapter I read was would be sooooo awesome! I sometimes spend more time trying to figure out where I left off as I do reading the actual chapters.  It would make a great promotional tool if it was made into a Shonen Sunday or Ikki toolbar and could be used in more browsers.

And since scanlators are always “borrowing” from publishers, I think some turn around is fair play.

Let Your Earthlight Shine

Earthlight 3If you’ve been following Tokyopop’s Boys of Summer online releases, you’ll notice there hasn’t been an update for a couple of weeks.  No, I don’t know why.  All Tokyopop has said is that it “won’t be back up for several weeks.” What I want to bring attention to though is the title they’ve moved up to fill in.  Earthlight.  This wasn’t supposed to be going up until January 2010, but now it’s been pushed up to this Wednesday, October 21.  So, if you’re one of those rare sci-fi manga fans, and had given up on this series (like a friend of mine), take heart!  You’ll finally get the finish of your series!

iRex Looks to be No Dog

Amazon’s been sitting pretty so far with their Kindle 2 and Kindle DX.  The competition has been fairly light, with Sony’s E-Reader being recognized as it’s only real competition.  But with Christmas just around the bend (3 months away as of this writing), retailers are starting to make their announcements now, just in time for holiday shopping to begin.

Two big retailers are throwing their proverbial hats into the E-Reader ring.  Verizon and Best Buy are backing the iRex, a touch screen E-Reader.  Already a well known brand in Europe, the iRex is coming out in the US with an 8.1 in touch screen and 3G wireless connection provided by Verizon Wireless, and will be sold through retail giant Best Buy.  The device will retail at $399.

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The Prius of E-Books

Another manga publisher has jumped on the Kindle bandwagon.  Seven Seas has announced that some of their titles will now be available for purchase on the Kindle.  It’s good to see manga publishers embracing e-books, but I would hope they are looking not just at the Kindle/iPhone, but beyond at the other devices that are coming out.  Soon.

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Shot Across The Bow

new_reader_open_angle_f_610x568We knew it was in the works, and now Sony has unveiled it.  The third e-Reader in their hardware line, the Reader Daily Edition.  Sony announced the new device on Tuesday at a press conference.  The Daily Edition is different from it’s older brothers in 2 important ways.  One, it has a larger touch screen, coming in at 7 in.  And two, it has built-in wireless capabilities, provided by AT&T.  Finally, Sony has a device that can truly compete with the Kindle!  ….Maybe.

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A Better Alternative…For Now

Recently, Amazon quietly announced a price drop for it’s Kindle 2 e-reader.  Slashing $60 from the price to $299, the Kindle is now coming closer to the price of other ebook readers.  If Amazon wants the Kindle to be competitive in any way, it had too.  Sony, not to be out done, not only slashed prices, but also came out with two new devices.  The E-Reader Pocket for $199 and the E-Reader Touch for $299 and will be out by the end of August.  The older Sony E-Reader 505  is $279, and can be found at Staples stores now.  Bebook, another competitor is also $279.  Cooler Books has it’s own e-reader now, the Cool Reader, which looks a lot like an iPod and comes in different colors, and is only $249.

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